MUMBAI: Gangster Abu Salem was sentenced to life in jail today after being convicted of involvement in the 1993 Mumbai blasts in which 257 people were killed and over 700 seriously injured. Two others, Tahir Merchant and Feroz Khan, were sentenced to death and another convict, Karimullah Khan, has been sentenced to a life term for the deadly blasts.
A special court has also slapped a fine of Rs. 200,000 on Abu Salem and Karimullah Khan; they have been held guilty of murder, supplying arms and other serious offences. Six men were convicted by the court in June.
Abu Salem was extradited from Portugal in 2005 and cannot be sentenced to death because of a guarantee to the Portuguese.
Salem was the mastermind of the blasts, along with Mustafa Dossa, who was extradited from the UAE. Dossa died of a heart attack after his conviction in June.
A number of other accused in the case, including India’s most wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim, remain on the run.
In 2007, the anti-terrorism court convicted 100 people, of which 23 were later acquitted.
Among these convicts was Yakub Memon, who was hanged in 2015 after a historic middle-of-the-night hearing in which the Supreme Court dismissed his final appeal against death.
A series of 13 blasts in quick succession ripped through various locations of India’s financial capital on March 12, 1993. The targets included the Air India Building, the Bombay Stock Exchange, Zaveri Bazar, hotels SeaRock and Hotel Juhu Centaur. Property worth Rs. 27 crore was damaged.
Abu Salem, accused of transporting weapons from Gujarat to Mumbai, was arrested in Portugal in 2002 and seen as one of the main conspirators.
The court said it was proved that Salem delivered weapons to actor Sanjay Dutt, who was convicted and served a jail term for keeping AK-56 rifles, 250 bullets and some hand grenades at his home.
The court recorded the statements of around 800 witnesses.